Sunday, September 27, 2009

The art of paying attention

I was watching the last couple of minutes of a rerun of a TV sit-com last night as two people chatted away, while the people to whom they were speaking were spacing out and thinking about something else entirely. It cracked me up because lately I've been wondering if anybody ever pays attention to a word I say. Men, in general, seem to have a very short attention span.

I first noticed this years ago with my Dad. I'd fill him in on some upcoming event, make a comment on the news, tell him some piece of neighborhood gossip to which he might eventually say something like, "What did you say?" That's if he noticed I'd been talking at all. Mostly he'd come back to me days later and tell me the same thing I told him, completely oblivious to the fact that I'd said it days before. He also had what we liked refer to as selective hearing. He might not hear anything I said to his face, but let me whisper something on the phone while he was at the other end of the house and he could repeat every word I'd said.

A male friend once called me really excited about a plan he thought we ought to consider for an organization to which we both belonged. "What do you think?" he asked, clearly thrilled with himself. "Great," I told him. "I thought it was a fabulous idea when I told you about it last week."

This week two people -- yes, men -- with whom I speak regularly reacted with great surprise when I told them the target date for my Florida departure. I'd told them both more than once. My life and my plans are hardly ever announced for last-minute shock value, yet you'd think I'd done that this time.

Short of shaking the person to whom I'm speaking to make absolutely certain I have their full, undivided attention or writing notes on their hands, I'm at a loss. If anyone has mastered the art of actually being heard, please tell me about how you accomplished it. Hurry before I decide to go into seclusion and talk only to myself.

Sherryl Woods


Blogger Lola said...

You might consider sending an email. My Husband will read an email, but he does not hear a work I say.
If you have not left for Florida, you should be aware that it is in the 90's still and very humid..

October 7, 2009 5:58 AM  
Blogger Sherryl said...

Lola, thanks for the warning, but sadly I didn't heed it. It's still hitting record highs down here. They're teasing me with the promise of cooler weather this weekend. We'll see.

Also, on my arrival, I discovered that the contractor who'd redone my kitchen in my absence had put in under-counter lights even though I'd specifically told him I didn't want them AND instead of tossing the odds and ends I'd left in the kitchen as trash -- and specifically told him to give away or toss with the demo -- he'd had it tidily stored away in my brand new cabinets. I should have tried the email thing on him.

That said, the new kitchen is absolutely gorgeous so in the overall scheme of things, the fact that one more person didn't listen to me probably doesn't matter.

October 14, 2009 5:46 AM  

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